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Drunk Man Arrested After Attempt to Make Russian Airliner Change Course

© Sputnik / Maksim Blinov / Go to the mediabankAn Aeroflot Airbus A330 aircraft
An Aeroflot Airbus A330 aircraft - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A drunk passenger was arrested in Russia on Tuesday for attempting to force an Aeroflot airliner flying to Moscow from a western Siberian city of Surgut to change the course.

The man tried to break into the cockpit in mid-flight, claiming he was armed and demanded to change the course, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

Aeroflot, the Russian flag-carrier, confirmed the attempted hijack in a statement, after initially refusing to comment on why Flight SU1515 had diverted from its course.

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Sources told Sputnik that the crew had managed to talk the intoxicated man into making an emergency landing in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk, some 180 miles west of Surgut, to refuel.

Security officers soon entered the plane and restrained the drunk man, whose threat to use weapons turn out to be a bluff. Other passengers disembarked safely and were able to continue on a backup plane.

A criminal investigation has been opened into the incident. The Russian Investigative Committee identified the suspect as a Surgut resident with a prior conviction for "damage to property."

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Later, the Russian Investigative Committee said that investigators did not find explosives or weapons in possession of the suspect Pavel Shapovalov.

"During the search of the suspect and the inspection of the aircraft, no explosives or weapons were found," the committee said in a statement.

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According to the statement, Shapovalov has been officially put into custody and "will soon face charges of plane hijacking aggravated by threats to use violence."

Aeroflot said in a statement that its security and technical services had been put on high alert, which included extra aircraft checks before takeoff. The airline stressed its employees were trained to deal with such incidents due to a growing threat of terrorism.

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